Welcome to Amanda Brittany's blog.
I love to write, and I've had 200 short stories and articles published globally.
My debut novel 'Her Last Lie' will be published 9th January 2018 by HQ Digital/HarperCollins, with my royalties on downloads going to Cancer Research UK in memory of my amazing sister.
From Short Story Writer to Novelist - An Interview with Cally Taylor
I'm always inspired and motivated by those short story writers who
have successfully made the jump to publishing a novel.
Over the next six weeks, I’m SO excited to be interviewing some of
those writers who prove it can be done. Patsy Collins, Della Galton, Jill
Steeples, Karen Clarke, Cally Taylor and Sarah England have all very kindly
agreed to be interviewed here at Writing Allsorts.
Kicking off the interviews today is the very lovely, Cally Taylor.
Welcome to Writing Allsorts, Cally. Please tell us a bit about your
success as a short story writer.
I started writing short stories in 2005
and, after dozens of rejections, got my big break in September 2006 when my
story 'Wish You Were Here' came second in theWoman's
Ownshort story competition
and was published in the magazine.
Shortly afterwards I started an online
critique group called 'A Story a Fortnight' where we wrote womag stories to
prompts every fortnight and
critiqued and scored each other's anonymously posted stories. The group was
HUGELY successful (well, it did include Sally Quilford, Karen Clarke and
WomagWriter!) and, between us, we had hundreds of stories published by womags
in the UK and abroad.
Whilst I was in the group I had stories
published inTake a Break
Fiction FeastandMy Weekly(I never did manage to crackWoman's Weekly) and was placed in
dozens of competitions including first prize in theBank Street Writers, Lancet Fact to
Fiction, Helen Mullin Awards,andSedbergh Festival of Books and
I took a break from short stories from
2007-2011 when I wrote and edited my first two novels 'Heaven Can Wait' and
'Home for Christmas' but came out of short story retirement in 2012 when I was
commissioned to write a story forYour
Catmagazine and Belinda
Jones's hugely popularSunloungeranthology.
This year I self-published 'Secrets and
Rain', an ebook anthology of my previously published and prize winning stories.
It went to #2 in the Women Writers Short Stories chart on Amazon.co.uk and has
been selling steadily ever since.
tell us about your journey from short story to novel.
Coming second in theWoman's Owncompetition was the boost to my
confidence that I needed to start writing a novel. That and the fact a friend
from school died suddenly aged 33 and her death made me realise that I had to
stop making excuses why I wasn't ready to write a novel and do it NOW!
In 2007 I wrote 'Heaven Can Wait' like a
woman possessed and finished the first draft in 3 months and 3 weeks (writing
every night after work). Editing it took longer (7 months) and, in September
2008, I sent it off to six agents I'd selected from the Writers and Artists
Yearbook. I had a few 'nearly' rejection letters and then Darley Anderson rang
me to request the full manuscript. Darley's second phone call wasn't quite so positive.
The manuscript had potential, he said, but it needed to be pacier and funnier
if it stood any chance on the market and I'd have to rewrite it before he
considered representing me. I was gutted but, after a brief sulk, set about
I sent it back in six months later and,
two weeks after that – in early 2008 - Madeleine Milburn, who worked for Darley
as Head of Foreign Rights, rang me to say she'd read my revised manuscript and
had loved it so much she'd asked him if she could represent me. He said yes
and, within a year, she'd got me a two book deal with Orion (it was published
in 2009) and sold it to fourteen publishers abroad.
My second novel, 'Home for Christmas' came
out in 2011, six weeks after I gave birth to my first child! I promoted it with
a small blog tour and a competition when the baby was napping (and I should
have been too!).
I don't know if it was the sleep
deprivation, the hormones or a burst of recklessness that made me do it but, in
2012 while I was on maternity leave, I decided to write a very different novel
from my first two - a psychological thriller. The opening 1,000 words had won
the RNA Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2011 and I was itching to write the rest.
With Maddy's blessing I did. And now I have a 2 book deal with Avon
HarperCollins writing psychological thrillers under the name of CL Taylor. The
first book, 'The Accident', comes out in June 2014.
Tell us about your novels.
My romantic-comedies are available online,
in all good bookshops and in libraries and my short story collection is
available on all Amazon sites (for £1.53 or $2.99 for a limited time). My
psychological thriller isn’t out until June 2014 but will be available in
paperback and ebook.
Lucy is about to marry the man of her
dreams - kind, handsome, funny Dan - when she breaks her neck the night before
their wedding. Unable to accept a lifetime's separation from her soulmate, Lucy
decides to become a ghost rather than go to heaven and be parted from Dan. But
it turns out things aren't quite as easy as that...
Beth Prince lives by the seaside, works in
the Picturebox - a charming but rundown independent cinema - and has a
boyfriend who's so debonair and charming she can't believe her luck! There's
just one problem - none of her boyfriends have ever told her they love her and
it doesn't look like Aiden's going to say it any time soon. Desperate to hear
'I love you' for the first time Beth takes matters into her own hands - and
instantly wishes she hadn't. Can Beth keep her job, her man and her home or is
her romantic-comedy life about to turn into a disaster movie?
Twelve magical stories from the
award-winning author of HEAVEN CAN WAIT and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. Grab a drink,
put up your feet and lose yourself in these heart-warming tales of love, loss
and hope. Peep inside the ‘Little Box of Wishes’, discover how ‘Two Red
Balloons’ heal a rift between a mother and daughter and fall in love with
Alfred, the ‘Rent-a-Cat’.
If you’re a fan of the fiction in women's
magazines you’ll love this collection of Cally's previously published stories.
Also included – and available online for the first time - three prizewinning
stories: ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘My Daughter the Deep Sea Diver’ and ‘Under the
'Secrets and Rain is a treasure trove
brimming over with captivating stories of life, loss and love. A truly
wonderful collection that you won't want to end!'
Miranda Dickinson, Sunday Times Bestseller (Fairytale of
The Accident(June 2014, Avon HarperCollins)
To the outside world Susan Jackson has it
all – a loving family, a successful politician husband and a beautiful home –
but when Charlotte, her fifteen year old daughter, deliberately steps in front
of a bus and ends up in a coma Sue questions whether any of it was real.
Desperate to find out what caused
Charlotte’s suicide attempt, she is horrified by an entry in her diary –
‘Keeping this secret is killing me’. As Sue spins in desperate circles, she
risks everything to discover the truth and finds herself immersed in a shady
world she didn’t know existed. The deeper she delves the darker the world
becomes and the more danger she puts herself in.
Can Sue wake up from the nightmares that
haunt her and save her daughter, or will ‘the secret’ destroy them both?
Have you always wanted to write a
novel, or was there a time when you thought you would only write short stories?
I've always wanted to write a novel. I
sent my first attempt, written in crayon and bound to wool, to Penguin when I
was eight years old. And received my first rejection letter by return post...
you still write short stories, and if so how do you juggle both?
These days I only write short stories if
there's a specific reason - for a magazine for promo for a book coming out, for
inclusion in an anthology (I wrote one for possible inclusion in the Crime
Writers' Association anthology last month), for a commission etc - as I just don't
have the time to write them for fun (which is gutting!).
I work as a manager for a London Uni four
days a week and look after my toddler the rest of the time. That means I have
to try and fit all my writing into my evenings and I'm so knackered it's all I
can do to write 1000 words of a novel. There just isn't the time for stories
do you prefer to write, novels or short stories?
Both! I love how quick short stories are
to write and you get that lovely buzz when you finish one. They're also great
because, if one doesn't work out and you have to scrap it you haven't wasted a
year of your life writing it. And you have the freedom to write about loads of
different characters, different settings, different plots etc.
On the flip side novels are HUGELY
satisfying to finish because they're so bloody hard to write, not to mention
time consuming, but also because you build up a very deep, very real
relationship with your characters. You can pour more of yourself into a novel,
you can explore themes on a deep level and you can be adventurous with the plot
and subplots. As satisfying as it is holding a magazine that features one of my
short stories, nothing compares to weighing the weight of a novel you've
written in your hands.
I guess short stories are like flings,
whereas novels are like relationships, there's a time and a place for both.
you any advice to a short story writer who may want to move on to writing
If you've had short stories published and
you've worked hard on your craft there's no reason why you can't write a novel
too. But do prepare yourself for the emotional roller coaster that goes along
with writing a novel. After your initial burst of enthusiasm you'll grow weary
of it (round about the 10,000 word mark). At 30,000 words you'll hate it and
come up with a new idea. You'll be tempted to ditch the novel for the new idea
but don't do it, keep writing. You'll hate your novel again around the 60,000 word
mark but push on. You'll probably have a massive burst of enthusiasm and energy
as you approach 90,000-100,000 words (I often
write 6,000 words in one sitting) and when you type THE END you'll experience
the biggest rush ever (or feel like it's the world's biggest anti-climax). The
next day you'll feel quite, quite lost.
do you feel is the main difference between writing a short story and a novel?
Stamina! (see above)
do you find easier to write, a novel or a short story?
Short stories, definitely. Some of my best
ones were written in less than three hours. Novels often feel like they take
you ever written a short story that you think would work well as a novel?
A few people who've read 'Secrets and
Rain', my short story collection, have said they wished some of the stories
were novels so they could carry on reading them, but no, I've never thought
that. Although I did turn a novel idea into a short story for the 'Sunlounger'
anthology (which is possibly why it ended up being 6,500 words long!)
you no longer write short stories, do you miss it?
I write them rarely and I do wish I could
write them more often.
do you think are the pros and cons of moving from a short story to a novel?
Pros: Your work can be read more widely
and in more countries, you'll (probably) earn more money, you'll build up a
readership and receive the most wonderful fan letters/emails. And, every once
in a blue moon, you'll get to go to swanky publisher parties!
Cons: Say goodbye to your social life –
and possibly sleep - because you'll need every last minute to write, edit, copy
edit, proof edit, foreign version edit, promote, market etc. And you'll miss
the buzz of finishing a story, sending it off and watching your letterbox for
you have an agent or publisher, do you think being a successful short story
writer helped get you noticed?
Absolutely. Maddy told me that the fact
I'd mentioned competition wins and magazines I'd been published in in my cover
letter was proof that I could write and that professional editors had found
merit in my work.
you think being a published short story writer gave you the confidence to take
the next step?
Oh yes! I've always believed in giving
myself writing challenges and then using the boost to my confidence to try and
achieve the next one. My first challenge was to be published online, then in a
magazine, then win a competition, then write a novel, then get an agent and a
deal. I saw each challenge as a rung on the ladder to writing success. Now my
aim is to hang onto that ladder for dear life! Seriously, my challenges these
days are for my next book to sell well, to build my readership, to write a
bestseller, to have a book made into a bestselling film and to snog George
Clooney on the red carpet (what?!).
you think self-promotion is an important part of being a novelist? If so, what
are your thoughts on self-promotion?
It's a huge part of being a novelist these
days and your agent and publisher expects you to do as much as you can. It's
time-consuming, sometimes stressful and it eats into your writing time but a
writer needs readers and it has to be done!
Cally Taylor is an author with two writing heads. Her
Cally Taylor head writes romantic comedies and women’s fiction whilst her CL
Taylor head writes dark psychological thrillers.